Publication Date


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Teaching and Learning


Benjamin Wellenreiter

Mentor Department

Teaching and Learning


Student-oriented middle school philosophy supports interdisciplinary teacher teaming as a developmentally appropriate approach to school organization. Many middle school teams are comprised of only "core" classes , consisting of math, science, social studies, and language arts. Often, these teams do not include "specials" classes such as art, physical education, music, or computer science. Though many middle school students participate in specials classes, their teachers are not well integrated into team structures or cultures. As main venues of communication regarding students, curriculum, and school functioning, teams and their scheduled common team meeting times are integral to supporting teachers and providing students with holistic middle school experiences. A lack of frequent, common meeting time between core and specials teachers contributes to a lack of communication and may result in specials teachers feeling isolated from the wider school community. Specials teachers and the disciplines they teach are key components to the development of middle school students. Without adequate communication, these important individuals may feel disrespected and under-considered by the larger school system. The goal of this project was to investigate specials teachers' perceptions of teaming structures and professional communication within a middle school. Specials teachers from a small urban school district participated in a survey in which they described the communication they have with their core team, ranked their satisfaction with their current teaming structures, and shared their overall thoughts about the advantages and disadvantages of teaming. Three themes emerged from their responses; discontent with teaching an extra class compared to the core teachers, disconnect in schedules with Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies (PBIS) and team days, and differences in handling student issues. Broadly, these themes reflect a disconnect between the core teachers and specials teachers within the same school. While the teaming approach is meant to strengthen communication, many teaming structures may be divisive systems that ultimately exclude valuable teachers.

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